200-355 Implementing Cisco Wireless Networking Fundamentals

200-355 Implementing Cisco Wireless Networking Fundamentals

Exam Number 200-355
Associated Certifications CCNA Wireless
Duration 90 minutes (60-70 questions)
Available Languages English
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Exam Tutorial Review type of exam questions

This exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of Radio Frequency (RF) and 802.11 technology essentials along with installing, configuring, monitoring and basic troubleshooting tasks needed to support Small Medium Business and Enterprise wireless networks.

Exam Description
The Implementing Cisco Wireless Network Fundamentals (WIFUND) exam (200-355) is a 90-minute, 60–70 item assessment that is associated with the CCNA Wireless certification. This exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of Radio Frequency (RF) and 802.11 technology essentials along with installing, configuring, monitoring, and basic troubleshooting tasks needed to support Small Medium Business and Enterprise wireless networks. Candidates can prepare for this exam by taking the Implementing Cisco Wireless Network Fundamentals (WIFUND) course.

The following topics are general guidelines for the content that is likely to be included on the exam. However, other related topics may also appear on any specific instance of the exam. To better reflect the contents of the exam and for clarity purposes, these guidelines may change at any time without notice.

1.0 RF Fundamentals 13%
1.1 Describe the propagation of radio waves

1.1.a Frequency, amplitude, phase, wavelength (characteristics)
1.1.b Absorption, reflection, diffraction, scattering, refraction, fading, free space path loss, multipath

1.2 Interpret RF signal measurements

1.2.a Signal strength (RSSI, Transmit power, receive sensitivity)
1.2.b Differentiate interference vs. noise
1.2.c Device capabilities (smartphones, laptops, tablets)
1.2.d Define SNR

1.3 Explain the principles of RF mathematics

1.3.a Compute dBm, mW, Law of 3s and 10s,

1.4 Describe Wi-Fi antenna characteristics

1.4.a Ability to read a radiation pattern chart
1.4.b Antenna types and uses
1.4.c dBi, dBd, EIRP

2.0 802.11 Technology Fundamentals 13%

2.1 Describe basic Wi-Fi governance

2.1.a Describe regional regulatory bodies (such as, FCC / ETSI/ NTT)
2.1.b IEEE 802.11
2.1.c Wi-Fi Alliance

2.2 Describe usable channel and power combination

2.2.a Regional EIRP limitation examples
2.2.b ISM, UNII frequency bands
2.2.c Describe RRM fundamental(s)

2.3 Describe 802.11 fundamentals

2.3.a Modulation techniques
2.3.b Channel width
2.3.c MIMO / MU-MIMO
2.3.c (i) MRC
2.3.c (ii) Beam forming
2.3.c (iii) Spatial streams
2.3.d Wireless topologies
2.3.d (i) IBSS
2.3.d (ii) BSS
2.3.d (iii) ESS
2.3.e Frame types
2.3.e (i) Management
2.3.e (ii) Control
2.3.e (iii) Data

3.0 Implementing a Wireless Network 16%

3.1 Describe the various Cisco wireless architectures

3.1.a Cloud
3.1.b Autonomous
3.1.c Split MAC
3.1.c (i) FlexConnect
3.1.c (ii) Centralized
3.1.c (iii) Converged

3.2 Describe physical infrastructure connections

3.2.a Wired infrastructures (AP, WLC, access/trunk ports, LAG)

3.3 Describe AP and WLC management access connections

3.3.a Management connections (Telnet, SSH, HTTP, HTTPS, console)
3.3.b IP addressing: IPv4 / IPv6
3.3.c Management via wireless

4.0 Operating a Wireless Network 20%

4.1 Execute initial setup procedures Cisco wireless infrastructures

4.1.a Cloud
4.1.b Converged
4.1.c Centralized
4.1.d Autonomous

4.2 Describe the Cisco implementation of the CAPWAP discovery and join process

4.2.a DHCP
4.2.b DNS
4.2.c Master-controller
4.2.d Primary-secondary-tertiary

4.3 Distinguish different lightweight AP modes

4.4 Describe and configure the components of a wireless LAN access for client connectivity using GUI only

4.5 Identify wireless network and client management and configuration platform options

4.5.a Controller GUI and CLI
4.5.b Prime infrastructure
4.5.c Dashboard
4.5.d ISE

4.6 Maintain wireless network

4.6.a Perform controller configuration backups
4.6.b Perform code updates on controller, APs, and converged access switches
4.6.b (i) AireOS: boot loader (FUS), image
4.6.b (ii) IOS-XE: bundle, unbundle
4.6.b (iii) Autonomous

5.0 Configuration of Client Connectivity 16%

5.1 Identify authentication mechanisms

5.1.a LDAP, RADIUS, local authentication, WebAuth, 802.1X,PSK

5.2 Configuring WLAN authentication mechanisms on the controller

5.2.a WebAuth, 802.1X, PSK
5.2.b TKIP deprecation

5.3 Configure client connectivity in different operating systems

5.3.a Android, MacOS, iOS, Windows

5.4 Describe roaming

5.4.a Layer 2 and Layer 3
5.4.b Intracontroller and intercontroller
5.4.c Centralized mobility
5.4.d Converged mobility

5.5 Describe wireless guest networking

5.5.a Anchor controller
5.5.b Foreign controller

6.0 Performing Client Connectivity Troubleshooting 13%

6.1 Validating WLAN configuration settings at the infrastructure side

6.1.a Security settings
6.1.b SSID settings

6.2 Validating AP infrastructure settings

6.2.a Port level configuration
6.2.b Power source
6.2.c AP and antenna orientation and position

6.3 Validate client settings

6.3.a SSID
6.3.b Security
6.3.c Device driver version

6.4 Employ appropriate controller tools to assist troubleshooting

6.4.a GUI logs
6.4.b CLI show commands
6.4.c Monitor pages
6.4.c (i) CleanAir (controller GUI)

6.2 Identify appropriate third-party tools to assist troubleshooting

6.2.a OS-based Client utilities
6.2.b Wi-Fi scanners
6.2.c RF mapping tool

7.0 Site Survey Process 9%

7.1 Describe site survey methodologies and their purpose

7.1.a Offsite (predictive / plan)
7.1.b Onsite
7.1.b (i) Predeployment (AP on a stick)
7.1.b (ii) Post deployment (validation)

7.2 Describe passive and active site surveys

7.3 Identify proper application of site survey tools

7.3.a Spectrum analyzer
7.3.b Site surveying software

7.4 Describe the requirements of client real-time and non-real-time applications


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LX0-104 CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI 2

Which of the following commands puts the output of the command date into the shell
variable mydate?

A. mydate=”$(date)”
B. mydate=”exec date”
C. mydate=”$((date))”
D. mydate=”date”
E. mydate=”${date}”

Answer: A

What is the purpose of the file /etc/profile?

A. It contains the welcome message that is displayed after login.
B. It contains security profiles defining which users are allowed to log in.
C. It contains environment variables that are set when a user logs in.
D. It contains default application profiles for users that run an application for the first time.

Answer: C

When the command echo $$ outputs 12942, what is the meaning of 12942?

A. It is the process ID of the echo command.
B. It is the process ID of the current shell.
C. It is the process ID of the last command executed.
D. It is the process ID of the last command which has been placed in the background.

Answer: B

What output will the following command produce?
seq 1 5 20

A. 1

B. 1

C. 1

D. 2

E. 5

Answer: A

Which of the following SQL queries counts the number of occurrences for each value of the
field order_type in the table orders?

A. SELECT order_type,COUNT(*) FROM orders WHERE order_type=order_type;
B. SELECT order_type,COUNT(*) FROM orders GROUP BY order_type;
C. COUNT(SELECT order_type FROM orders);
D. SELECT COUNT(*) FROM orders ORDER BY order_type;
E. SELECT AUTO_COUNT FROM orders COUNT order_type;

Answer: B


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LX0-104 Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices (VIVND)

Which of the following commands puts the output of the command date into the shell
variable mydate?

A. mydate=”$(date)”
B. mydate=”exec date”
C. mydate=”$((date))”
D. mydate=”date”
E. mydate=”${date}”

Answer: A

What is the purpose of the file /etc/profile?

A. It contains the welcome message that is displayed after login.
B. It contains security profiles defining which users are allowed to log in.
C. It contains environment variables that are set when a user logs in.
D. It contains default application profiles for users that run an application for the first time.

Answer: C

When the command echo $$ outputs 12942, what is the meaning of 12942?

A. It is the process ID of the echo command.
B. It is the process ID of the current shell.
C. It is the process ID of the last command executed.
D. It is the process ID of the last command which has been placed in the background.

Answer: B

What output will the following command produce?
seq 1 5 20

A. 1

B. 1

C. 1

D. 2

E. 5

Answer: A

Which of the following SQL queries counts the number of occurrences for each value of the
field order_type in the table orders?

A. SELECT order_type,COUNT(*) FROM orders WHERE order_type=order_type;
B. SELECT order_type,COUNT(*) FROM orders GROUP BY order_type;
C. COUNT(SELECT order_type FROM orders);
D. SELECT COUNT(*) FROM orders ORDER BY order_type;
E. SELECT AUTO_COUNT FROM orders COUNT order_type;

Answer: B


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648-238 Implementing Cisco Connected Physical Security 1 Exam

Order the following resolutions, by pixel count, from lowest to highest.

B. D1, CIF, 4CIF, HD

Answer: C


What are the two differences between interlaced and progressive scan video? (Choose two.)

A. Progressive scan video is generally better with fast-moving objects
B. Interlaced video is generally better with fast-moving objects
C. Interlaced video is constructed out of alternating odd and even lines
D. Progressive scan video is constructed out of alternating odd and even lines

Answer: A,C


Where should outdoor surveillance cameras be mounted when nearby sources of light are

A. The camera should be mounted lower than the light source.
B. The camera should be mounted in parallel with the nearest light source.
C. The camera should be mounted above the light source.
D. Location does not matter, as long as the camera is day/night capable.

Answer: A


What is the correct camera and lens setup for the use of IR lighting?

A. Color camera with IR corrected lens
B. A camera with day/night mode and IR corrected lens
C. A camera with day/night mode and varifocal lens
D. Color camera with varifocal lens

Answer: B


Which switch port capability is recommended for an MSP server?

A. Server switch ports should have 10/100 Mb capability
B. Server switch ports should have 1000 Mb capability
C. Server switch ports should have 10 Gb capability
D. Servers should be connected to PoE-capable switches

Answer: B




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644-906 Implementing and Maintaining Cisco Technologies Using IOS XR – (IMTXR)

What is the maximum long-term normal operating temperature of the Cisco CRS-1, ASR 9000
Series Routers, and XR 12000 Series Routers?

A. 40C (104F)
B. 50C (122F)
C. 55C (131F)
D. 65C (149F)

Answer: A


The Cisco CRS 16-Slot Line Card Chassis Site Planning Guide suggests having 48 inches of
clearance behind the chassis. What would definitely happen to the system if there were only 28
inches of clearance behind the Cisco CRS 16-Slot Line Card Chassis?

A. The system would overheat due to inadequate airflow.
B. The fabric card could not be exchanged if one failed.
C. The modular services card (MSC) could not be exchanged if one failed.
D. The fan tray could not be exchanged if one failed.

Answer: D


How many planes are there in the Cisco CRS-3 switch fabric?

A. 1
B. 3
C. 7
D. 8

Answer: D


What is the cell size of the cells that traverse the switch fabric on the Cisco CRS-3?

A. 128 bytes
B. 136 bytes
C. 144 bytes
D. 200 bytes
E. 288 bytes

Answer: B


Where are client interfaces terminated on the Cisco CRS-3?

A. the modular services card
B. the physical layer interface module(s)
C. the switch fabric interface terminator
D. the Service Processor 40
E. the Service Processor 140

Answer: B


In order to determine the hardware and firmware revision of a linecard, what is the correct
command that should be invoked?

A. RP/0/RP0/CPU0:CRS-MC#show version
B. RP/0/RP0/CPU0:CRS-MC#show platform
C. RP/0/RP0/CPU0:CRS-MC(admin)#show platform
D. RP/0/RP0/CPU0:CRS-MC#show diagnostic summary
E. RP/0/RP0/CPU0:CRS-MC(admin)#show diag details

Answer: E


In which mode can you check the power usage of a chassis?

A. in EXEC mode
B. in admin mode
C. in both EXEC and admin mode
D. in ROMMON mode
E. in environmental mode

Answer: B



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400-051 CCIE Collaboration

Company ABC is planning to migrate from MCS-hosted Cisco Unified Communications Manager
applications to Cisco UC on UCS B-Series servers. Which statement about installation media
support is true for this migration?

A. The install log can be written to a USB flash drive that is attached to the UCS server.
B. The answer file that is generated by the Answer File Generator (platformConfig.xml) can be
read from a USB flash drive to perform an unattended installation on the UCS server.
C. The Cisco Music on Hold USB audio sound card can be mapped to a virtual USB port on a
VMware virtual machine on the UCS server.
D. The answer file that is generated by the Answer File Generator (platformConfig.xml) can be
read from an FLP image that is mounted in a virtual floppy drive.
E. The Cisco Music on Hold USB audio sound card can be mapped to a virtual serial port on a
VMware virtual machine on the UCS server.

Answer: D

Using the AFG will allow you to get this license mac before even touching the server. It is provided
after filling in the main form of the AFG but it can also be found by looking at the last few lines of
your platformconfig.xml file.
Once you have the xml files, you will need to map those to the floppy drive of the VM (no usb
support on the VM OVA). There are many ways to do this. I simply use a freeware virtual floppy
app that I drop the platformconfig.xml file on and then copy the*.flp image out to the datastore. I’ll
end up with a directory on my datastore called AFG that has the host named *.flp images that I will
use during install. It also serves as archival of these files in the event the server needs to be reimaged.
This is important because the license mac will change if every parameteris not entered
exactly as it was prior. If the license mac changes, you will have to go through the process of
requesting new license files to be generated.

Which statement about the Cisco UC on UCS TRC and the third-party server specs-based
virtualization support model is true?

A. Both the UC on UCS TRC and the third-party servers spec-based support models have rulebased
B. The UC on UCS TRC support model has a rule-based approach and the third-party servers
spec-based support model has a configuration-based approach.
C. The UC on UCS TRC support model requires a high level of virtualization experience while the
third-party server spec-based support model requires a low to medium level virtualization
D. VMware vCenter is mandatory for the UC on UCS TRC support model but it is optional for the
third-party server spec-based support model.
E. VMware vCenter is optional for the UC on UCS TRC support model but it is mandatory for the
third-party server spec-based support model.

Answer: E

VMware vCenter is

Which definition is included in a Cisco UC on UCS TRC?

A. storage arrays such as those from EMC or NetApp, if applicable
B. configuration of virtual-to-physical network interface mapping
C. step-by-step procedures for hardware BIOS, firmware, drivers, and RAID setup
D. server model and local components (CPU, RAM, adapters, local storage) at the part number
E. configuration settings and patch recommendations for VMware software

Answer: D

What does a TRC definition include?

Which capability is supported by Cisco Discovery Protocol but not by LLDP-MED?

A. LAN speed and duplex discovery
B. Network policy discovery
C. Location identification discovery
D. Power discovery
E. Trust extension

Answer: E

Cisco Discovery Protocol provides an additional capability not found in LLDP-MED that allows the
switch to extend trust to the phone. In this case, the phone is now trusted to mark the packets
received on the PC port accordingly. This feature can be used to off-load the switch because now
it does not need to police the information being received from the phone.

Which two mechanisms does Cisco EnergyWise use for neighbor discovery? (Choose two.)

A. multicast
C. UDP broadcast
D. Cisco Discovery Protocol

Answer: C,D

Cisco EnergyWise Neighbor Discovery Process
The Cisco EnergyWise neighbor discovery process is the mechanism by which domain members
discover each other and populate their Cisco EnergyWise neighbor tables. Cisco EnergyWise
queries can subsequently be distributed to all domain members using the neighbor relationships to
monitor and control the power usage of devices within a domain. Cisco EnergyWise domain
members automatically discover their neighbors through one of two mechanisms:
•Cisco EnergyWise UDP broadcast packet
•Cisco EnergyWise CDP packets
UDP broadcast packets are automatically sent out switch ports which support Cisco EnergyWise,
regardless of whether the interfaces are configured with the no energywise interface-level
command. CDP packets are sent when CDP is configured for the switch ports.

Which protocol does the Cisco Prime LAN Management Solution application use to communicate
with Cisco EnergyWise domain members?

A. UDP broadcast
B. Cisco Discovery Protocol
C. UDP unicast
E. multicast

Answer: D

Cisco Prime LMS 4.1 uses TCP port 43440.



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010-151 Supporting Cisco Datacenter Networking Devices (DCTECH)

Which method is a TCP/IP-based protocol for establishing and managing connections between IPbased
storage devices, hosts, and clients?


Answer: C


Which method does FCIP use to enable connectivity of geographically distributed Fibre Channel
SANs over IP?

A. routing
B. tunneling
C. handshaking
D. transporting

Answer: B


Which important feature on the front end is provided to the clients by multiple servers that access
the same storage devices across the SAN?

A. recovery
B. redundancy
C. resiliency
D. security
E. storage

Answer: B


The Ethernet specification details several different fiber optic media types. What is the wire
transmission speed for 100BASE-FX Ethernet?

A. 10 Mb/s
B. 100 Mb/s
C. 1000 Mb/s
D. 10000 Mb/s

Answer: B


Which fiber optic cable type is used most often with a Subscriber connector?

A. dual-mode
B. single-mode
C. straight-mode
D. multi-mode
E. subscriber-mode

Answer: B




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CAS-002 CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)

An attacker attempts to create a DoS event against the VoIP system of a company. The attacker uses a tool to flood the network with a large number of SIP INVITE traffic. Which of the following would be LEAST likely to thwart such an attack?

A. Install IDS/IPS systems on the network
B. Force all SIP communication to be encrypted
C. Create separate VLANs for voice and data traffic
D. Implement QoS parameters on the switches

Answer: D

Joe, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), was an Information security professor and a Subject Matter Expert for over 20 years. He has designed a network defense method which he says is significantly better than prominent international standards. He has recommended that the company use his cryptographic method. Which of the following methodologies should be adopted?

A. The company should develop an in-house solution and keep the algorithm a secret.
B. The company should use the CEO’s encryption scheme.
C. The company should use a mixture of both systems to meet minimum standards.
D. The company should use the method recommended by other respected information security organizations.

Answer: D

A small company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has asked its Chief Security Officer (CSO) to improve the company’s security posture quickly with regard to targeted attacks. Which of the following should the CSO conduct FIRST?

A. Survey threat feeds from services inside the same industry.
B. Purchase multiple threat feeds to ensure diversity and implement blocks for malicious traffic.
C. Conduct an internal audit against industry best practices to perform a qualitative analysis.
D. Deploy a UTM solution that receives frequent updates from a trusted industry vendor.

Answer: A

An administrator wants to enable policy based flexible mandatory access controls on an open source OS to prevent abnormal application modifications or executions. Which of the following would BEST accomplish this?

A. Access control lists
B. SELinux
C. IPtables firewall

Answer: B

Company XYZ has purchased and is now deploying a new HTML5 application. The company wants to hire a penetration tester to evaluate the security of the client and server components of the proprietary web application before launch. Which of the following is the penetration tester MOST likely to use while performing black box testing of the security of the company’s purchased application? (Select TWO).

A. Code review
B. Sandbox
C. Local proxy
D. Fuzzer
E. Port scanner

Answer: C,D

A developer is determining the best way to improve security within the code being developed. The developer is focusing on input fields where customers enter their credit card details. Which of the following techniques, if implemented in the code, would be the MOST effective in protecting the fields from malformed input?

A. Client side input validation
B. Stored procedure
C. Encrypting credit card details
D. Regular expression matching

Answer: D


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Looking back 30 years as a sysadmin

The profession — and everything it involves — has changed dramatically, but has been (and still is) a fun ride.

Looking back after spending more than 30 years as a Unix systems administrator, I have to say that’s it’s been quite a ride.

It certainly wasn’t 30+ years of doing the same thing. Instead, the technology and the job have gone through incredible changes along the way. There were dramatic improvements in the hardware that I managed and always plenty of new tools to learn and use.

Over the years, I went from reveling in how much work I could get done on the command line to grappling with some big issues — troubleshooting some very complicated problems and figuring out how to best protect my employers’ information assets. Along the way, I worked with some amazing individuals, got laid off (once), and learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work both from a technical and a career perspective.

Here are my reflections on the changes I’ve seen and those still to come.

How the technology has changed

In the earliest part of my career, I actually used keypunch machines — first, when processing payrolls for client companies while working for a large New York City bank (and putting myself through college) and second, when taking my first programming class. At the bank, I built punch card “programs” to make it easier for the keypunch operators to jump to the next field for the data they were entering. At the college, the class was an introductory programming class based on Fortran. Yes, Fortran. The following semester, the keypunch machines were no more and big clunky terminals took their place.

Keypunch operators
In college I had learned languages like Fortran, LISP, ALGOL, and Pascal. And, in one class, I built a simple operating system on a PDP system using assembly language. I remember “reading” the lights on the front of the system and how exciting it was when the attached printer spit out a sheet of paper as instructed. I’ve used many other languages since — like C and some Java, but I’ve mostly worked in scripting languages like sh, csh, bash, ksh, Python, and Perl. One of the most surprising things is how many languages have been introduced since I started in the field. The number of languages available seems to have increased maybe 20-30 times. This list from 2013 is probably no longer up-to-date: 256 Programming Languages

I remember in the early ’80s having to know the topology of hard drives in order to add them to my systems. Today, the systems are able to identify peripherals with very little work on my part. The number of cylinders, heads, and sectors … I had to describe the disk in these units for the system I was working on to be able to use the drive.
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From the early ’90s, I still have somewhere a 300 MB (yes, that’s megabytes) disk that’s roughly the size of a shoe box and sometimes stare at my USB (“thumb”) drives, knowing that some hold as much as a terabyte. What an incredible comparison! If this trend continues, we’ll soon find that dropping a storage device on the floor will mean we’re no longer going to be able to find it.

I also remember backing up my servers using a reel-to-reel tape drive. The tapes were huge and they didn’t hold all that much data. Some of my file systems required 3-4 of them. Today, we use robotic tape drives and tools that automate the backups and keep track of what files went to what tapes so that you can restore files from various backup tapes with ease. And some of the backup technology today uses clever “deduplication” technology to reduce the size of data dumps by avoiding storing duplicate data, often reducing the size of backups to a small fraction of their original size.

robotic tape library
Of course, almost nothing has changed the field in which I’ve spent the last 30+ years as much as the Internet and the web have. When I worked for the federal courts, the district courts were connecting to systems in Washington, DC using a service called “Tymnet” which used packet switching technology. My project would not only put “minicomputers” (systems about the size of a college dorm refrigerator) into the courthouses, but make it so that all activity no longer had to push bits to Washington DC and back.

The growth of the Internet made connecting to arbitrary systems around the globe not only possible but common. And the introduction of the web (nee the “world wide web”) meant that I could find answers to many of my technical questions without even having to pull a book off the shelf. Today I often find myself wondering how I ever found answers to my technical questions before Google and similar web searching tools made their appearance.

How the jobs have changed
In general, the networks we manage are larger and more diverse. We won’t see the AppleTalk network segments that I remember from the ’80s doing their own thing, but the systems we run on our desktops and support in our data centers can be surprisingly diverse. More of the work we do is centrally managed through network services like NFS, NIS, DNS, etc.

Virtualization has become a major factor in our data centers. Many of our servers are now just segments of resources on larger servers, able to be shrunk and grown as needed to meet our demands, and easily migrated to alternate data centers as needed. On top of that, what now seems the ultimate virtualization — moving systems and even complete data centers into the cloud — dramatically changes what we as sysadmins are able to control and what we are responsible for.

Most of us rely on fairly versatile ticketing systems to keep track of all the problems that we are addressing and tasks waiting to be completed. We might be “just” doing systems administration, but that role has moved heavily into managing security, controlling access to a wide range of resources, analyzing network traffic, scrutinizing log files, and fixing the chinks on our cyber armor.

In the early part of my career (maybe the first ten years or so), security was fairly lax. Maybe we forced our users to change their passwords every year. I remember once writing a program to pseudorandomly generate passwords by clumping two short words together, but it was nothing like what I do today. Security in those days was not a hot item and most of the people that I worked with were far more cavalier than I. When one of our speakers at a Sun User Group conference that I helped organize in the 1990s suggested that we all think like attackers, the thought seemed quite revolutionary.

This aspect of being a sysadmin has undergone more change than likely any other. Today, you’re irresponsible if you’re not behaving in a manner that might have seemed paranoid 20 years ago. The tools we use and the measures we go to in order to secure our systems are orders of magnitude beyond anything we would have considered back then. Passwords are longer and the systems we manage allow us to configure complexity measures. The suggested password length has gone from 7-8 characters to 12-14 and the expiration times have gone from once a year to once every three or four months for most of us.

In addition, the tools that we use have become dramatically more sophisticated. To some extent, we do become the attackers, using vulnerability testers like Nessus and Nexpose that discover the holes in our systems (hopefully before our attackers do) and sometimes even exploit them. We’re also on the lookout with intrusion detection systems watching for signs of malicious activity and data loss prevention tools trying to keep our organizational “jewels” from leaking out the back door. And following a briefing with Palo Alto just yesterday, I don’t imagine that I’ll ever think of firewalls in the same old way again. They’re moving from the perimeter of our organizations into the middle of everything we do. They’re smarter, faster, and they’re focused on what’s happening, not just on what doors (i.e., ports) the traffic is moving through.

How our communities have changed
In 1980, the Apple II computer that sat on a desk in the corner of my dining room had my neighbors thinking that I was a complete freak. To hear them talk, you’d think I had a centrifuge on my kitchen counter. And it was not because the computer was in the dining room or because it was an Apple. It was a computer and why I would have one sitting in my house had them looking at me really funny. Yet it wasn’t that many years before anyone without a home computer was considered weird. And these days, we’re all pretty much using wireless networks and probably everyone in the household has their own computer. Big change — even without mentioning all the other electronics that are practically mandated by our modern life styles.
Career choices

The downside: Compared to many IT jobs, there’s not much climbing up the corporate ladder for sysadmins. As a systems administrator, you’ll seldom be in the spotlight. You can easily still be a “bottom rung” (nobody reporting to you) worker after 30 years in the field. It’s also hard sometimes to get a sense of value. You generally get noticed least when everything is running smoothly. Unless you resolve Big Problems, most of the people you support won’t think about you very often. Maybe not even on Sysadmin Day.

Systems administrators are rarely customer-facing unless you count as customers the staff that use the systems that you keep humming along. And, even then, the big changes that you make are likely done after hours when everyone else is off duty and having a relaxing weekend or enjoying happy hour at the local pub. Do your job really well and no one will remember you’re there.

The upside: The work is seldom boring and there’s always something new to learn — something breaking, some new coming through the door. Even after 30+ years, the work is anything but monotonous. And the job pays reasonably well. There’s also a lot of variability in what you do and what you specialize in. You might automate all of your tasks or manage a huge data center, but there will always be something that challenges you and problems that need your attention.

Some of the significant trade-offs involve the kind of organization you work for. I worked in one company with only three employees and two independent contractors and other organizations with staffs of tens of thousands. The benefit of the smaller staff positions was getting to touch nearly everything and being involved in almost every aspect of the work. The big ones offered more chance of moving around and changing my organizational role fairly dramatically.

How much variability there is in your work depends on many factors, but I generally prefer having enough flexibility that I’m always doing something that I do easily and well and something else that is new and exciting. The mix keeps me feeling that I’m earning my keep and equipping myself for future challenges and opportunities.

The best jobs

For me, the best jobs that I’ve had involved my feeling that what I did was important. My stint working in the federal government was one of those because I knew that the analysts that I was supporting were helping to ensure that good decisions were being made on the national level. It was rewarding just to be a part of that.

At another (Johns Hopkins University), I managed the systems and the network for one department (Physics and Astronomy). The big plus was that I worked with some of the most brilliant people I’d ever have hoped to know — some trying to map the cosmos and other peering into the nature of the tiniest subatomic particles — and the students who helped out from time to time were generally amazingly competent grad students. Plus the campus was lovely, the commute reasonable, and the benefits (like being able to take free classes) pretty cool.

I also enjoyed being something of a jack of all computer trades at Web Publishing (part of IDG) where I managed the network, the systems, the servers, the backups, the web site, and eventually acquired a very capable assistant who made the job even that much more enjoyable. And we were on the forefront of online-only publications like SunWorld and JavaWorld that provided excellent information and advice to the growing communities that used this technology.

And last, but not least, working for a couple E*Trade subsidiaries in a similar “support everything” sysadmin role. Bright creative people are almost always wonderful to work with. We worked off the Embarcadero in San Francisco and managed to have some fun together even when we were working. And, hey, taking the ferry to work was the best commute imaginable!

Some of the positions that I’ve held over the years involved having the best possible coworkers — people who were as committed as I was, who both learned from me and taught me more than I can ever thank them for. Others involved the kind of office politics that make it hard to remember that we’re supposed to be working for the same goal — to help our organizations be successful — not fighting for a position under the lime light.

you’re in a good place.
Money isn’t everything. Even living on a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay (which I did for several years) would be Heaven for some and Hell for others. Take the time to really nail down what matters to you. Is it visibility? Recognition? A sense of accomplishment? A big salary? Flexible hours? A voice in how things are done? A stake (and a say) in the outcome of your projects?

Whatever you do, don’t stop learning. Computer skills get old fast and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Spend some time every day learning something new and get your hands on some tools that might lead to the next phase in your career. Check job postings from time to time even if you have no plans to change jobs — just to keep aware of what skills are in high demand.

And put on your seatbelt. You probably can’t begin to imagine how the field is going to look in another 30 years!


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How important is CompTIA Certification

The need to advance or improve one’s credentials has become an import factor in this growing world. To beat the competition one should do the certifications and be a step ahead from others. There are many certifications, based on the expertise you have in, you can choose the one most relevant. Out of many one is CompTIA, doing which you not only gets the recognition but also the growth you would want. CompTIA is one of the most valued certifications as it covers a variety of fields like computer networking, IT security, Linux programming etc.

One way to be ahead of others, in a growing world of competitive job market the need to advance or improve one’s credentials cannot be ignored. For the beginners of the IT field CompTIA A+ is the most recommended of all as it makes you perfect as a computer technician. Topics covered under A+ are as installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting. The exam is internationally accepted and relevant, also it is vendor neutral. Many employers see it as the proof of your ability to work with computers. No wonder, experts call A+ certification as a step in the right direction to more advanced CompTIA certification.

Once you are done with CompTIA A+ certification, you would look out for the next level i.e. CompTIA Network+ which is even more important than the CompTIA A+ certification. This certification makes you efficient in running, maintaining, troubleshooting, installing, and configuring computer network infrastructures. Companies which have large number of computer networks, connecting many employees, this certification is for them. There is high demand for IT networking professionals, so getting your CompTIA Network+ certification is a good next step after you complete your A+ certification.

CompTIA A+ is the basic of all the certifications provided by CompTIA. Another important CompTIA certification is CompTIA Network+. This certification tests your proficiency in maintaining, running, troubleshooting, installing, and configuring computer network infrastructures. This is majorly in need in companies where hundreds of employees get connected to the network. After you complete your A+ certification, it’s always suggested to get CompTIA network+ certification too as it is in huge demand

There are many more certification offered by CompTIA, based on your interest and passion, you can choose the one which is more relevant for your career growth.



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CompTIA Server+ Certification Training 2015

CompTIA’s Server+ 2015 is a vendor-neutral certification that deals with every aspect of the “care and feeding” of server computers. While nearly any computer can be used as a server in a small networking environment, many organizations require dedicated network servers built to high performance specifications. These powerful machines are called upon to handle hundreds (if not thousands) of user accounts, and all of the network activity and requests generated by these users. Additionally, there’s a variety of specialized servers (e.g. database servers, file and print servers, web servers, etc.) that can be deployed to perform critical roles in organizations.

The Server+ cert is aimed at technicians (ideally with a CompTIA A+ cert) who have 18 to 24 months of professional experience working with server hardware and software. The Server+ cert was developed in consultation with several industry partners, and is recommended or required for server technicians who work for Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Lenovo and Xerox. First released in 2001, the Server+ exam was updated in 2005, and again in 2009.

Server+ training

There are a number of different training options available for CompTIA’s Server+ 2015. For students on a budget, the most affordable option involves the use of printed self-study manuals. These self-paced books are a good option for candidates who have access to a test lab outfitted with computer server hardware and software, and who feel confident in their ability to teach themselves material from texts. Self-study manuals can also give candidates the most flexibility when scheduling training sessions for themselves.

Server+ self-study manuals are available from several vendors. Students should shop online in order to find the best pricing on these materials.

Candidates who prefer more dynamic training should look at self-paced video courseware. This form of training uses video lessons on optical disks, or may be offered through an online streaming video subscription service. Some of the vendors who create training manuals also create video courseware, and will often bundle the two products together. Self-paced video courseware can be more engaging than printed materials alone, while still offering the same flexibility when it comes to scheduling lessons.

Instructor-led training for Server+ is the most expensive option available, but offers the most beneficial learning experience to students who need interaction with a live instructor in order to learn new material. Instructor-led training can be purchased as virtual classroom courses delivered over the Internet, or traditional classroom courses held at a technical school.

Online courses
Virtual classroom courses use special client software or a web browser plug-in to simultaneously connect several students to an online classroom, which is managed by a live instructor. Virtual classroom courses are a good option for students who live a great distance from a technical school, or who have any conditions that make it difficult for them to travel to a physical classroom. These classes take place in real-time, so candidates must be able to work them into their existing schedules.
Traditional classroom

Finally, there are traditional classroom courses. For some, this training option offers the best learning experience: a live instructor, other students to collaborate with, and (by most schools) access to all of the relevant hardware and software labs necessary to master Server+ course content.

Here are the most common subjects a Server+ student can expect to encounter, no matter which training option they select:

Identifying and configuring server hardware components
Installing and configuring a network operating system
Server security fundamentals
Server-based storage technologies
Disaster recovery and contingency planning
Server troubleshooting tools and techniques

Server+ certification exam
There are no prerequisites for taking the Server+ exam, although CompTIA recommends that candidates should have their A+ certification, and somewhere between 18 and 24 months experience working with server computer hardware and software. The Server+ exam can be booked and taken at any authorized CompTIA exam center. As of this writing, the current Server+ exam code is SK0-003. The exam is available in English, Chinese, German and Japanese.

The Server+ exam is made up of 100 multiple-choice questions. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam. The passing score for the exam is 750 on a scale of 100-900, and candidates are informed immediately upon exam completion if they have passed or not.

Here’s a list of the Server+ exam knowledge domains, with an estimate of how much exam content is dedicated to each:

System Hardware (21%)
Software (19%)
Storage (14%)
IT Environment (11%)
Disaster Recovery (11%)
Troubleshooting (24%)

Server+ in the workplace
The Server+ cert is valid for three years once it has been awarded by CompTIA. Candidates can renew the Server+ by earning a set total of CompTIA Continuing Education Units (CEUs) during the three-year certified period. CompTIA CEUs are attained by earning additional CompTIA certs, or can be gained by participating in certain approved industry activities. For more information about the CompTIA Continuing Education Program, visit the CompTIA Certification website.

If the Server+ is allowed to expire, the exam must be passed again in order to re-certify.

Some of the job roles associated with the Server+ certification include the following:
Authorized Server Technician
Server Sales Specialist
Network Server Support Specialist
Application Server Specialist
Web Server Specialist

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What to expect at Microsoft’s big hardware event on October 6th

Expect Surface tablets, Lumia smartphones, and maybe more at a rare Microsoft hardware event.

You don’t usually see “Microsoft” with “hardware event,” unless they are a guest, but Microsoft will be holding just that, a hardware event, on October 6 in New York City. The company sent out invitations on Monday morning.

Of course, Microsoft did not say what hardware would be on display, but it’s fairly easy to guess. The most obvious choice is Surface 4, unless they change the name. The Surface 3 models are now more than a year old, ancient in hardware terms.

It really is time for a Surface update. Intel has released the Skylake processor, and Microsoft now has Windows 10. Plus, Apple has its new iPad Pro, Lenovo has a 12-inch tablet, and Dell has one coming in the next few months.

Then there’s the Lumia business. Microsoft is sticking with it for now despite the fact that the Nokia acquisition has cost the company billions. The rumor is that two new flagship devices will be introduced: a 5.2-inch Lumia 950 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and 1080p display, and the 5.7-inch QHD Lumia 950 XL with the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor.

The final piece of hardware rumored for the event is an update to Microsoft’s wearable, the Microsoft Band. It has been almost a year since its release, and at the time, it was viewed as a 1.0 product. In other words, it needed work. There isn’t much floating around on the new Band, but it has nowhere to go but up.

On an unrelated note, you may have heard rumors last week that Microsoft was looking to buy a piece, or maybe all, of AMD. On the surface that seems ridiculous, but AMD is the chip supplier for the Xbox One and AMD is teetering on the brink of oblivion with plunging sales and continued losses.

Well, Citi’s semiconductor analyst Chris Danely threw some cold water on that idea, saying “we seriously doubt it” and noting that Microsoft has a close partnership with AMD’s rival Intel, among other reasons. He also noted that AMD has a cross-licensing patent agreement with Intel and any company buying AMD would have to renegotiate that deal, which would be awkward.

Danely said it might be possible that Microsoft acquires AMD’s semi-custom processor businesses, although that too seems unlikely. The custom semi business not only makes the Xbox One’s processor, it also makes the processor for the Sony PlayStation 4, and Sony would not sit quietly by and let that happen.

AMD is in rough shape, no question about it, and these rumors are constant. I’d say take them with a grain of salt, but really, you shouldn’t take them at all when it comes to Microsoft. At best, Microsoft can throw them a financial lifeline like it did with Apple in 1997, but that’s as far as it will go.



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Don’t look now, but the future is here!

We didn’t get the future that was predicted. We got a much better one.

In the first half of the 20th Century, a wide range of futurists, science fiction writers and others predicted what life would be like in the Year 2000 and beyond. Many of those concepts made such an impact that they left an indelible mark on the public’s imagination.

In fact, many people assume that we’re still slowly progressing toward that future. But I’m here to tell you that the real future has already arrived. More than that, the predicted future is boring and inferior to our amazing reality.

In the future-obsessed 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, futurists commonly believed that robotic pets would become normal. A few prototypes were even mocked up and displayed at World’s Fairs. One robot dog called Philidog was created in 1928. The most famous was Sparko, a robotic dog created in 1940.

They were actually mechanical contraptions that responded in limited ways to various inputs. They achieved slow, clumsy movement with internal gears and wires. Futurists no doubt assumed that computers would eventually be involved, and that mechanical dogs would evolve into robot dogs.

But no futurist could have predicted the massive computer power controlling today’s home robot pets. The most recent example is the BB-8.
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Unveiled last week by Sphero, the $150 BB-8 is a pet robot modeled after a droid in the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, which opens in December.

Sphero worked with Disney on the design of the robot featured in the movie, then got the rights to make a branded toy pet based on the movie character.

The BB-8 has a magnetically attached head. (Sphero’s marketing material says the head is attached not with magnets but with “the force” — or a “pseudo-inverted pendulum mechanism.”) As the ball-shaped body rolls along, the head stays generally on top of the BB-8 while at the same time appearing to look around nervously and curiously.

The BB-8 rolls around on its own and can be remote-controlled or run through user-determined programs. It even responds to voice commands. (Hilariously, it runs away in a panic when you say, “It’s a trap!”)

Sphero’s droid is also capable of simulated “holographic communication,” which you can see as an augmented reality feature via your phone’s camera and

The “brains” of the BB-8 is your Android or iOS smartphone running the BB-8 app, which will no doubt gain new powers and abilities with each new update. The processing power for the BB-8 (your phone) vastly exceeds anything imaginable until recently.

In comparison, the mid-century futurists could not have predicted or imagined even the IBM Deep Blue supercomputer that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Deep Blue was capable of 11.38 GFLOPS (a GFLOP is 1 billion floating point operations per second), which is puny compared to the 115.2 GFLOPS that the iPhone 6’s A8 SoC delivers.

So when your BB-8 is rolling around amusing the family, it’s being powered by the equivalent of more than 10 IBM supercomputers of the late 1990s.

So yeah, we have the predicted robot pets. And they’re probably way more advanced than the futurists predicted.

Jet packs

Futurists also envisioned jet packs — apparently believing that lashing a high-powered engine to your back would be a viable form of transportation. The jet pack idea was so compelling, in fact, that it was brought to fruition decades ago. The jet packs that, say, Nick Macomber flies in demonstrations are essentially perfected versions of the concept from the 1960s and ’70s.

The jet packs based on the decades-old predictions keep you in the air for 30 seconds or so. They’re also dangerous. The new version of the old jet pack vision is off-limits to the public.

Compare that with the much-better jet-pack-like concepts that are a reality, and are available to anyone who has the money and courage to use them. For example, check out this video of Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet, who fly jetpacks combined with hard-wing wingsuits to fly like Superman.

And next year, if you’ve got $150,000 to spend, you’ll be able to buy the world’s first commercially available jet pack, the Martin Jetpack.
Flying cars

Dozens of actual flying car products have hit the market, or will soon. Most of these are more accurately described as “roadable aircraft,” because they’re basically airplanes that have fold-up wings and can be driven on roads.

The creation of flying cars hasn’t solved the problem of where you can fly them. Pilot’s licenses and advanced training are required. Airspace, weather, obstacle avoidance and all the standard factors involved in flying planes apply. So the long-predicted dream of escaping traffic jams by taking off from the freeway and soaring into the sky can’t happen because it’s both dangerous and illegal. So most people who could own roadable aircraft don’t. These vehicles are inferior airplanes and inferior cars. It’s much better, it turns out, to buy a real car plus a real airplane.

But one of the core predicted attributes of yesterday’s flying car of the future was the ability to fly to places where there’s no airport or runway. And that vision is quickly becoming a reality.

Two companies are working on vertical-takeoff airplanes for the consumer market. One is the TF-X from Terrafugia. The other is the TriFan 600 from XTI.

These airplanes will both let you fly as you would in an airplane and land in your front yard (regulations permitting) — or on a helicopter pad on top of a building in a major city.

Food in pill form

Another favorite idea of the 20th Century futurists was technology that would free us from the problems and hassles of eating. The concept was that all the nutrition you might ever need could be delivered in capsules, thus relieving us of the need to expend time and energy on shopping, cooking and cleaning up.

A Silicon Valley venture-backed startup called Soylent is selling that same vision in powder and liquid form. It explicitly touts the benefit of saving time. And it’s enhancing that vision by promoting the environmental friendliness and low cost of its product (you can survive on Soylent for about $70 per month).

But we have something now that’s far better than food pills or even Soylent: We have real food that’s really good. A ’50s-era futurist wouldn’t have been able to imagine the quality and variety of food we have today. (Turns out people enjoy eating. Go figure.)

The reality is that much of our world today meets or exceeds the expectations of yesterday’s futurists.

We’re growing food in space, developing drone air-traffic control systems (all computer-automated, of course), developing advanced kitchen computers, mass-producing robot vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, and sending robots to preschool to learn the way babies do.

No, we don’t have moon colonies. But we do have robots on Mars. We’re landing on asteroids. And we’re taking close-ups of Pluto.

I’m not sure exactly when the future happened, but it did. So I’m going to say it: The future is here. And it’s vastly better and more exciting than anything anyone predicted.


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Review: Office 2016 for Mac offers a new interface and better features

Mac users who’ve been waiting for Microsoft to update Office can take heart: The new version is finally here and it’s worth the wait.

Mac users of Office who have felt left out in the cold by Microsoft (because the last version, Office 2011 for Mac, was released in October 2010) now have reason to be pleased: The final version of Office 2016 for Mac brings the suite out of the dark ages and into the modern world.
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Hints of what the new Office would offer have been out for quite a while, notably the preview of Outlook, introduced in October 2014. But Mac owners had to wait until early July for the final release of the full suite, including the core applications Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

It was well worth the wait. Office 2016 for Mac sports a far better interface than Office 2011, integrates well with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage and dramatically improves Outlook.

(Note: Mac for Office 2016 requires Yosemite OS X or better. It’s currently only available as part of a subscription to Office 365, which allows you to install Office on multiple devices. It will sell as a standalone Mac product later this month.)

Spanking new interface
The moment you run any Office application, you know you’ve left the aging Office 2011 behind. It’s less cluttered, cleaner and sleeker-looking, more logically organized, more colorful and simpler to use. That’s largely in part because the Ribbon has been redone, and now looks and works as it does in the Windows version of Office.

The Ribbon is far more prominent and now sits close to the top of the screen rather than (as before) beneath a long row of icons for doing things such as opening and closing files, printing and so on. The usual Mac menu that sits atop Mac applications is hidden as well, although you can reveal it by moving your cursor to the top of the screen. It’s a clever way to bridge the worlds of

Office and Mac OS X.
Not everyone is a Ribbon fan, though, and those who wish it were gone, or just want to give themselves a little more screen real estate, can hide it by clicking a small up arrow at the Ribbon’s far right. The Ribbon goes away and the arrow turns to face downwards. Click the arrow to make the Ribbon come back.

Not only has the Ribbon been moved but it’s been reorganized, which is all to the good. For example, Word’s confusing Document Elements tab is gone; most of what was there can now be found in the more logically-named Insert tab. So now, you use the Insert tab when you want to insert anything, whether it be art, a table, header, link and so on. In Office 2011 you had to go on a treasure hunt through many different tabs to find all that. You’ll find similar reorganizations throughout all of Office.

For me, this reorganized Ribbon has made Office more usable and far more pleasurable to use than the previous version. Also, I use the Windows version of Office, and because the Mac version now closely mirrors it, I found switching between Office on Windows and Office on the Mac to be largely seamless.

Standardized look and feel
In Office 2016, Microsoft is bringing a common look and feel to the suite across all platforms, which is why this Mac version looks much like the recently released Windows-based Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview. However, there are still some differences between the Mac version and the Windows Office preview. As with the Windows 2016 preview, on the Mac the applications are color-coded: Blue for Word, green for Excel and red for PowerPoint.

Also missing in the Mac version is one of the more useful features of the Windows version: A box on the far right of the ribbon with the text, “Tell me what you want to do.” Type in a task, and you get walked through doing it via options and menus. I found that exceptionally useful, and hope that Microsoft eventually introduces it in the final, shipping version of Office 2016 for the Mac.

Another difference: The Ribbon doesn’t have the File tab. In the Windows version of Office, when you click the File tab, you’re sent to what Microsoft calls Backstage, for doing things such as opening a file, viewing cloud-based services associated with your accounts and so on. That’s missing in the Mac version.

You can do some of what Backstage offers in the Mac version — for example, you can open files by either clicking on a folder icon just above the Ribbon on the left-hand side of the screen or by pressing the Command-O keyboard combination. But that still won’t offer other Backstage capabilities, such as controlling what changes people can make to a document. In the Mac version, you do that in the Review tab.

And I couldn’t locate two other features of Backstage anywhere in the Mac version of Office: Checking a document to see whether it contains hidden personal information and managing previous versions of a file. It may be that they’re hidden so deeply I couldn’t find them. But it’s a shortcoming of the Mac version of Office, even if it’s only a minor one.

Integration with OneDrive

Microsoft has been integrating its cloud-based service OneDrive into both Windows and Office, and so, as you would expect, access to OneDrive is built right into Office 16 for the Mac. You have a choice of opening or saving files either to the cloud-based OneDrive or on your Mac’s hard disk.

It took me a little while to get used to the somewhat confusing OneDrive interface. When you choose File / Open or press Command-O, you see a screen that is clearly designed to be like every other Office screen, with the same colors, size of icons and so on. You then have the choice of opening a file on OneDrive or on your local Mac.

If you choose to open a OneDrive file, you get the same Office-like interface. However, if you choose a Mac-based file, you’re switched to the Mac’s Finder interface and have to use it navigate to files stored on your local version of OneDrive.

Using two different interfaces to open files is jarring at first and takes getting used to. However, after a few times I got used to dealing with it. You likely will as well.

Word 2016

As with the other Office applications, the main thing that’s new about Word is the interface. But there are other changes as well.

There is now a somewhat awkward collaboration feature that lets two people work simultaneously in the same document. In theory it sounds nice; in practice, I wasn’t impressed. You don’t see the changes your collaborator makes until she saves the document, and she won’t see your changes until you save it. That’s not exactly real-time collaboration. Nice try, but I won’t be using the feature any time soon — Google Docs is far superior in this area, because it uses true real-time collaboration.

word mac

Word and the other Office applications get the full-blown ribbon treatment in Office 16 for Mac.

On the plus side, there’s a new Styles pane that lets you apply pre-set styles to text and paragraphs. It’s easy to overlook, because it’s available only on the Home tab. To use it, go to the Home tab and click the Styles Pane icon on the upper right of the screen — and the pane appears. Click the icon again to make it go away.

Word 2016 also adds another useful new pane, the Navigation pane, which lets you navigate through a document via search results, headings and page thumbnails. You can also navigate by the kinds of changes you’ve made to the document, such as comments and formatting.

Excel 2016
One of the most welcome additions to Excel is that it now recognizes most Windows keyboard shortcuts. But don’t worry — there’s no need to abandon the old Mac Excel shortcuts, because it recognizes them as well. Being a long-time Windows Excel user, I found this saved me a great deal of time on the Mac. It was like coming home.

excel mac
Excel now comes with new data analysis and charting features.

Spreadsheet jockeys will be pleased that Excel has been powered with many of the features from the Windows version, such as adding slicers to pivot tables. With slicers, you create buttons that make it easy to filter data in a pivot table report, with no need to resort to drop-down lists. A number of new statistical functions have also been added, such as moving averages and
exponential smoothing.

Less importantly, when you click on a cell, your cursor essentially glides over to it in an animated way, like it does on the Windows 2013 version of Excel. Will this change your life? Far from it. But I found it just the slightest bit entertaining, and I, for one, can use all the entertainment I can get when I’m using a spreadsheet.

Not everything is rosy in this new version of Excel, though. You can’t build pivot charts in Excel, which is unfortunate, because they’re a great way to present complex information at a glance, and are useful when creating dashboards meant to display a great deal of data at once.

PowerPoint 2016

PowerPoint has gotten the same kind of collaboration features as Word and suffers from the same limitation — it’s not true real-time collaboration because changes don’t show up until the person you’re collaborating with saves them.

powerpoint mac
The new Presenter view may be PowerPoint’s best new feature.

On the plus side, I found the new Presenter view an excellent addition. With it, while you’re projecting a presentation, your audience will see the current slide, while you’ll also see your notes, the next slide and a timer. That makes it easy to read from your notes and know what’s coming next when giving your presentation.

A new animations pane is useful for creating and previewing animations in your presentations. I found it exceptionally useful because it let me control pretty much everything about animations in slides, including customizing the duration of the animation, whether to play sound along with it, and a number of effects options. And it’s also great for adding multiple animations to a slide, because you can use the pane to easily change the order of the animations, delete animations and add news ones.

Outlook 2016
If you feel that Apple Mail is purgatory, Outlook 2016 will be a must-have.

As with the other applications in Office 2016, Outlook has gotten a visual makeover to make it look and work more like its Windows counterpart. Clutter has been reduced, although it still relies on a menu above the ribbon for many tasks.

Outlook has a new look, but more important may be performance enhancements under the hood.

Unread messages now are denoted by a blue vertical bar rather than by bold text, making them stand out much more. As a result, I found it much easier to scan unread mail in my inbox. Links to your calendar, notes, contacts and tasks are no longer buried underneath the mailboxes on the left-hand pane, but instead appear in big type at the very bottom of the screen. They’re now
impossible to miss.

Performance has been considerably improved. Messages appear instantly, search is quick and I experienced no lags or delays. Microsoft says that’s because it’s switched from its previous proprietary database to SQLite. The company also says this makes Outlook’s database not just faster, but less liable to crashes and corruptions.

You receive messages faster on an Exchange account not just because of the new database, but because in the old Outlook for the Mac, Exchange Web Services polled the mail server for new messages approximately only once a minute. Outlook 2016 has done away with that delay — it now polls continually.

That’s not to say all is well with this new version of Outlook. You can’t export mail, tasks, contacts, notes, and calendars directly from Outlook. Because there’s no support for CalDAV or CardDav, you can’t sync your contacts or calendars with other programs and platforms, including Outlook.com. And because Outlook supports Apple’s sandbox, you can’t run local anti-spam products in Outlook 2016 with Exchange. Instead, you have to use an Exchange server-based anti-spam product from Microsoft.

There are currently two versions of Office 2016 for Mac available, both as part of the subscription-based Office 365 line. Office 365 Home costs $9.99 per month and covers up to five Windows PCs or Macs along with five tablets and five phones; Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 per month and covers one Windows PC or Mac, one tablet and one phone. There are also several business and enterprise plans available.

When the standalone version of Office 2016 for Mac is released later this month, it will be essentially the same suite as the Office 365 version, with two differences: The standalone version won’t include either a free 1TB of OneDrive space or 60 minutes a month of free Skype calling, both of which come with Office 365. Aside from that, though, the suites will be identical.

Bottom line

With this version of Office, the Mac is no longer the poor stepchild in the Office world. All versions of Office, whether on a Windows PC or a Mac, look and work alike, and also resemble the Office you experience on the Web and on tablets.

This is good news for Mac users, because the new interface and features, as well as the improved performance of Outlook, make it a considerably better suite. And it should also mean that Office on the Mac will no longer trail behind its Windows counterpart, and will be updated on a similar schedule. In fact, the final Mac version of Office 2016 was released before the Windows version, which won’t be available until later in September.

But there’s something even more important than the release schedule about this latest iteration of Office for the Mac: It’s a winner. Any Mac user looking for an office suite should seriously consider getting it.



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Wi-Fi blocking debate far from over

$750K fine levied against Smart City by FCC for WiFi blocking has WLAN pros, vendors talking again

Following the FCC’s warning in January that it would no longer tolerate the Marriotts of the world blocking visitors’ WiFi hotspots, I set a reminder on my calendar to revisit the topic six months later. After all, the issue of WiFi blocking sparked strong reactions from IT pros, end users and vendors of wireless LAN products early in the year, and I figured it wasn’t over yet.

So I started by making an inquiry directly to Marriott Global CIO Bruce Hoffmeister, who foisted me on to a company spokesman, who “respectfully declined” to connect me with anyone for an update on how Marriott is now dealing with perceived threats to its network. He simply directed me back to Marriott’s statement from January that it would behave itself, no doubt hoping the hotel chain could further distance itself from the $600K fine that the FCC hit it with, as well as the rest of the bad publicity. I also inquired at the FCC, which in Marriott-like fashion, referred me back to the agency’s last statement on the matter from January, and in a follow up, said it can’t comment on whether any new investigations are underway. Most of the WLAN vendors and administrators were pretty quiet, too when I made the rounds a few weeks back.

While all this was demoralizing, my intuition about this story still having legs was validated last week (while I was on vacation, of course) when the FCC slapped an Internet service provider called Smart City with a $750,000 fine for pulling a Marriott at several locations and blocking personal WiFi hotspots. Smart City was found not be protecting its network against any specific security threat, but rather, trying to force people to pay for its Internet service.

So despite Marriott’s best efforts, the hotel chain’s past shenanigans were dredged up again in coverage of the Smart City story. Because now all of a sudden, everyone’s talking again.

One vendor spokesman expressed surprise that the FCC had once again levied a big fine on a WiFi blocker: “Trying to control and govern the unlicensed spectrum is a tall order, especially in venues and public areas.”

One university network architect, Lee Badman, published an open letter to the FCC on his blog following the FCC’s Smart City order in which he says “as a WLAN professional I implore you to recognize that these actions are creating significant amounts of confusion for enterprise Wi-Fi environments and those of us who keep them operational for the millions of business clients that use them every day.” He goes on to list 5 big questions hanging over the WLAN space in the wake of the latest FCC ruling on WiFi blocking.

Among the things Badman’s peers are worried about or are wondering about:

*Does using frequency blocking material in building design constitute WiFi blocking in a passive way?

*Does getting end users to agree to acceptable use policies (AUPs) protect WLAN operators from getting busted for WiFi blocking?

*How can the de-auth/mitigation tools sold by WLAN vendors be used legally?

Some users would also like to see WLAN vendors band together and get clearer answers about what customers can and can’t do in terms of WiFi security and management. And in fact, some vendors have been working at least in the hospitality industry to come up with best practices for successful WiFi deployments. The Hotel Technology Next Generation association, which includes Marriott among its members, issued a WiFi roadmap in April, that while only touching on the topic of blocking tools, looks like it has some potential to help organizations stay on the right side of the law. (Meanwhile, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a hospitality industry group that sided with Marriott’s right to block users of personal Wi-Fi hotspots, claims to have formed a Cybersecurity Task Force but did not reply to my inquiries earlier this month about whether the task force has in fact been formed or accomplished anything yet.)

Apple’s deal with Cisco will lay out a red carpet for critical iOS apps
Buckley suggests that the FCC should allow Wi-Fi blocking at least in the interim, and then “re-open the discussion on the use of this technology and clarify when its use is practical and acceptable. Wi-Fi vendors also need to collaborate to come up with better security mechanisms in public Wi-Fi networks.” He acknowledges that the topic is complicated given that we’re talking about unlicensed spectrum that’s free for anyone to use.

Xirrus is especially passionate about K-12 schools being able to use WiFi blocking (rogue AP protection/mitigation) to protect students from accessing unfiltered Internet content – protections that the schools have put in place to comply with federal laws designed to safeguard children. Though Buckley says this could also apply to public access Wi-Fi environments, such as cafes, airports and public libraries where you don’t want people potentially “displaying illicit content on their devices” in full view of others.

Buckley stresses that one reason public WLAN operators need to be able to have security tools such as WiFi blocking at their disposal is because such networks can attract schemers who set up bogus hotspots to lure unsuspecting users, say those in a hotel lobby or convention center, to share sensitive personal information. One question then becomes whether a hotel not blocking WiFi could get sued for a guest getting phished after logging onto what he or she thought was the hotel’s network.

While Buckley would very much like to see further dialogue with the FCC take place, Xirrus isn’t waiting around for that to happen either. He says that in a few weeks the company is coming out with technology that will greatly bolster public WLAN network security. “WiFi blocking is another tool that can be used to protect users, but let’s not forget that security is all about defense in depth. You can’t rely on just one layer.”


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